There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Writer-director Dale Kutzera serves up the medicine that is Military Intelligence and You! with Airplane! peanuts and Mystery Science Theater 3000 popcorn. His conceit is pretty clever: Take some clunky World War II-era propaganda movies, splice in a new, parodic storyline, and add a narrator to point out the ridiculous aspects of both, under the ruse that it’s all an instructional video for fresh recruits—part of the “Give Them Liberty…” Educational Series. Like that deftly loaded title, the film’s opening minutes are incisive and entertaining, the script’s main mark being our trigger-happy administration and the pretensions with which the Iraq conflict was justified. But that target’s a slow-moving one, and the digs get old fast. The narrator (one “Clive Van Owen,” credited only in the introductory reel) in particular is tiresome, his newsreel-grandiose quips hammering the same nail with increasing overenthusiasm. (Early lines like, “It is intelligence that distinguishes dangerous enemies from merely annoying foreigners” are funny; later ones like, “Then the coalition of America & Co. could safely rain down our bombs of liberty on an enemy desperate to breathe the sulfur-scented air of freedom” are just wearying.) Kutzera and his team did do a credible job stitching the film together, however: The new black-and-white footage that shapes the story nearly seamlessly flows with the old, allowing bygone stars such as Ronald Reagan and William Holden to interact with the satirical “Central Command” team (primarily Patrick Muldoon, Elizabeth Bennett, and Mackenzie Astin as the hotshot strategist, saucy love interest, and overshadowed nice guy, respectively). The cast members also nail the tone, all channeling their inner Leslie Nielsens as they deliver monologues about patriotism or adjust the threat level to Crayola colors. With all the political message-mongering in theaters lately, the comic approach of Military Intelligence and You! is undeniably a welcome respite—just one that, in keeping with its good-ol’-days theme, should have been limited to a short before the show.